Humpback whales bubble net feeding during my Glacier Bay Photo Tour last week.
Home from an awesome Glacier Bay Alaska Photo Tour! It exceeded my high expectations. We had amazing scenery, and bubble net feeding humpback whales! Plus, got close views and photos of mountain goats with brand new babies, orcas and even brown bear which was a bit of a bonus. Also had a really fun group – all but two I had known, or traveled with previously, so it was like getting together with old and new friends!
Seeing Mc Bride Glacier and Inlet was a real treat. You can only access it with a small skiff at the right tide, so very few people ever get in here. Some of the icebergs were stunning, more to come in the days ahead.
For a sense of scale, that is a giant Holland American cruise ship M/V Noordam with nearly 2,000 passenger and 800 crew that is being dwarfed by the Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska scenery!
I fly down today to begin another trip to Glacier Bay as part of a photo tour – really looking forward to getting back!
I thought I would share my experience in setting up an automatic, gravity feed watering system as it could be of benefit to other. I wanted a way to automatically fill a watering hole at the Desert Photo Retreat in Arizona for the wildlife over the summer. I’m surprised with the popularity of rain barrel collection systems, hydroponics and the like that this wouldn’t be easier. However, I learned the hard way that most automatic watering timers need a fair amount of pressure. The popular Rainbird one I purchased needed almost 30 pounds of pressure to operate. There is one exception, this one made by Toro, however the bad reviews and plastic gears made me nervous. I did buy the Toro unit and placed it on another tank for watering some plants, something that isn’t as critical, I’ll let you know how it holds up.
So I asked for solutions on Facebook, and received an incredible response. My friends seem to be much smarter then I am! 🙂 The obvious solution was a pump, but I wanted to avoid a pump in case the tank went dry for some reason, I didn’t want to burn the pump up. I have enough water to last until August, and I plan to go back and re-fill then, but in case I don’t make it, I don’t want a fried pump.
Someone suggested this electric, always closed solenoid valve. This way I could add power on a schedule to fill my waterhole. For a timer, it was suggested a use a Arduino. Another suggestion was for a Raspberry Pi. Both good suggestions, and something I could see implementing in the future. One day I will have year around wifi which would give me the ability to not only monitor the water hole remotely with a webcam, but also control the valve remotely as well. However, in the interest in time and simplicity, I ultimately went with this simple programmable timer. The water tanks themselves are IBC totes I purchased on Cragslist. Note, the of the links are part of a Amazon affiliate program.
I had this vision that the wildlife in Arizona was largely solitary, rarely interacting with other wildlife except for prey / predator encounters. I was wrong!
I was often surprised at how often animals would appear to overlap with each other at the water hole – I might see a gray fox with a time stamp of 11:22, then a skunk at 11:23, then a fox again at 11:24. Other animals as well, but especially the fox and skunks. So, I moved the camera way back so that I could see the entire area, and increased the frequency of the each photo to each second. I was shocked to see how much interaction takes place! Especially with the gray fox and skunks who often seemed to arrive and leave at the same time, do you think they travel together? Skunk has little to fear as their only predator is the Great Horned Owl (who is also a regular visitor). Unlike other predators, the owl can’t smell making the skunks main deterrent worthless. So maybe the skunk feels safe from an owl with wildlife coming in for a drink at the same time.
I never did see the fox and bobcat at the water at the same time, and never saw the coyote there with any other animals as it would prey on most of them.
Check out these photos (past the more) for some interesting interactions. These are all from the last month on the property.
Last year at Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park. I will be back there next week with a photo tour – can’t wait!! Hopefully we have as much luck with the breaching whales as last year. I think the boat helps convey the massive scale of this beautiful place.
Ash-throated flycatcher. Back in Alaska getting caught up on lots of stuff! In the meantime, a photo from just before we left Arizona.